A new study confirms one of the worst fears about local extinctions and colonization of bumblebees. The global warming seems to be the culprit. The researchers looked at more than half a million records of 66 bumblebee species from 1901 to 1974 and from 2000 to 2014. In the period closest to us, the loss in the bumblebee population went down by a third.
What’s worst is that the bumblebee is not a simple decline in biodiversity. It affects the human population at a basic level: sustenance.
Bumblebees are important agricultural pollinators. This makes their decline in Europe, North America, South America, and Asia a cause for concern. The latest and most severe decline was registered in Spain and Mexico, due to the worm years.
Until now, the decline was considered to have been caused by habitat loss, the mechanization of agriculture, and the use of pesticides.
Global warming has become the fourth and hardest reason to be contained. Some of the populations have retired in the colder northern areas on the globe, but not enough of them. It looks like global change is currently exceeding the critical limits of ecosystem resilience.
Bumblebees Versus Global Warming
There are around 250 species of bumblebees in the world. Bumblebees are typically found in temperate climates and are often found at higher latitudes and altitudes than other bees. Although a few tropical species exist. Some species range into icy environments where other bees might not be observed, like the high Arctic.
They might look like honeybees, and just like them feed on nectar, but they are not honey bees. And no honey bee can do what a bumblebee can. They possess long hairy tongues to lap up the liquid inside the flower.
Whereas honeybees have short tongues and therefore mainly pollinate open flowers, some bumblebee species have long tongues and collect nectar from flowers that are closed into a tube. These floral species depend on this kind of bee. They might not produce honey, but highly important agricultural species rely on them. The tomatoes and the greenhouses depend entirely on bumblebees.
Bumblebees are generally plump and densely furry. They are larger, broader, and stouter-bodied than honeybees, and their abdomen tip is more rounded. Many species have broad bands of color, the patterns helping to distinguish different species.
Bumblebees have fewer stripes or none. They are usually covered in black fur, while honeybees have many stripes, including several grey stripes on the abdomen.